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We love the taste of whole wheat bread, but because of it's density, I hardly ever make it. This is bread number 41 in the challenge and on page of the Bread Bake's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. Reinhart tells the story of wheat bread being the reason for his bread beginnings thirty something years ago, and how complex it can be to actually extract wonderful flavors without leaving a "grassy" or bitter aftertaste. I was in fact inspired by Reinhart's journey in discovering ways of improving flavors from whole wheat and so also obtained a copy of his Whole Grains book. Getting back to the subject at hand, in this particular recipe, there is the use of both a soaker and a poolish or biga, in which the longer fermentaion is supposed to balance out the bitter/grassy notes in the whole grain and improve the crumb somehow.
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When I first began to think about this recipe, I decided to try a combination of whole wheat flours to see if there was any difference in flavor. I had a new bag of Trader Joe's white whole wheat, and a fairly new bag of whole wheat durum flour that I thought would make for an interesting mix.

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The actual recipe calls for both a soaker of  whole grains ( I used the two flours and threw in some corn grits for texture), and a biga. The Biga was actually my wild yeast that was increased to make the appropriate amount for this recipe.

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The grains looked full and opened up a great deal after the soak. I combined the rest of the ingredients to make a typical bread dough and let it bulk rise until it doubled in size. The dough was then divided in half to make to loaves and placed inside bread pans.

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The resulting bread was actually a lot heavier and dense than I had hoped for, but the the rustic looking loaves had a wonderful tangy taste and was delicious  with soups and salads. I will try this again but use different wheat grains next time.

Yeastpotted.

 
 
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Moving right along, we are at bread #40 in the Bread Baker's Apprentice book, and I can say that I see the light at the end. (I can also certainly say that i was not incredibly excited about tackling this bread, since most white breads have a very boring flavor profile to me.) I have made plenty of white breads in the past, and so I just knew that this was going to be an ordinary loaf. However, since I am only using my wild yeast starter as the sole leavening agent, I was very curious to see what would happen to the flavor and texture once the longer fermentation process was implemented. I chose to tackle variation 3, since it involved a preferment and I was using my sourdough as my leavening agent. Since I am participating in the BBA Challenge, I cannot post the recipe, but someone has posted the recipe for variation 2 here.
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This bread actually involved a preferment (A pre-ferment and a longer fermentation in the bread-making process have several benefits: there is more time for yeast, enzyme and, if sourdough, bacterial actions on the starch and proteins in the dough, thereby creating greater complexities of flavor), egg yolk, sugar, and butter to enrich the dough.

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After kneading the ingredients together to get a soft dough that window-paned, it was then rolled in an oiled bowl(I used the same mixing bowl) and covered to let double in bulk.

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The dough was divided after fermenting and shaped into a loaf and 4 sandwich buns. I opted to sprinkle the top with poppy seeds.
The verdict? Well, let's just say that this was the BEST white bread we have ever eaten. The sponge or preferment, really gave the bread wonderful flavor, and the fat from the butter and egg yolk softened the crumb which gave a more delicate texture. What a wonderful surprise!
yeastpotted.

 
 
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Here we are at BBA bread number 39 in the challenge and it's Vienna Bread. Developed in Vienna, Austria, Vienna bread is baked by using ovens that  are injected with steam as the bread bakes to add moisture to the crumb of the bread.  As the bread bakes with the moisture, the surrounding crust becomes lightly browned, slightly crisp, and flaky in texture while the crumb remains soft. Vienna bread is typically produced as an oblong loaf of bread, but is also available in other shapes. However, as a longer type of loaf, it is a bread that has been attributed with being the origination of French bread, as bakers in France attempted to adopt the steam method of producing their French baguettes. This bread was definitely not a french style, but an enriched loaf with a really beautiful glaze. I was enthusiastic about the addition of the dutch crumb topping and loved the way the loaves looked when finished. You can follow along on page 261 of the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice or you can find an adapted recipe here.
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preferment on the left and finished dough on the right
This is another two day bread where the day before baking the bread, a preferment is used for flavor. This was an enriched dough as well, for it contained egg, butter, sugar, and barley malt or powder. (I had the malt, so I used it.) The finished dough came together fairly quickly and I was soon able to get it to windowpane, where it was then put into an oiled bowl to rise until it doubled in bulk.

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After the first rise, the dough was then divided into two and shaped into batards. In the meantime, I made the dutch crumb glaze and brushed it over the scored loaves. The loaves were then left to rise again until doubled in size. They were then baked in the oven with steam to create the wonderful crust that this bread is famous for.

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This technique resulted in a light and airy bread crumb that not only looked beautiful, but tasted wonderful as well. It reminded me a lot of a lower fat challah bread, and toasted up really nicely as a vehicle for Nutella. Yummmmm!

Yeaspotted.

 
 
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Legend has it that, in 1100, in an attempt to force Florence to surrender in one of their endless battles against each other, nearby Pisa blockaded the salt that arrived at her port, preventing it from reaching Florence. Thus, pane toscano (Tuscan bread) was born - the bread famous throughout Italy for being 'sciocco', from the word in the Tuscan dialect for ‘unsalted’. This is just one of the legends, (but my favorite) that tells of the origins of this saltless wonder. While we were in Florence a few years ago, My husband (who is first generation Italian) introduced me to this peculiar bread, and much to my surprise, I loved it! So, I was worried when I got to this bread because so many of the BBA Challengers who went before me really disliked it. Boy was I amazed! Not only did I love this bread, it was ABSOLUTELY my favorite thus far. The crust was deliciously crisp and the crumb was incredibly chewy with a slight sweetness and tang that seemed to permeate and change with every bite. This was a bread experience like I have only dreamed of having from one of my own baked goods, and my husband agreed that this was an exceptional bread.
If you are following along with me, you know that I have been baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart using only wild yeast starter as my leaven. This is bread 38 and the recipe is on page 259, but if you still haven't picked up a copy, Susan at WildYeast  has a gread adapted version.
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This is another two day bread, but it uses a fascinating method to 'scald' flour using boiling water to gelatinize the starches and to encourage more enzyme activity. I have never seen this method before but according to Reinhart, it can be applied to many of the lean dough recipes so far. This approach really intrigued me, so I will be experimenting with this new-found  technique in the near future.

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The actual kneading process of the finished dough was a little more difficult than some of the other breads so far. I found the dough to be VERY goopy and lumpy in the beginning stages of mixing, and I noticed that the time it actually took to reach the desired dough consistency and temperature took much longer than I anticipated, and I thought my poor mixer would give out before it did.

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Finally, The dough got to a kind of 'windowpane' stage and I proceeded with the rest of the bulk fermentation. If you have been following along my blog, you will notice that I am trying to use a wild yeast starter exclusively while baking through Reinhart's book, and even though I did not use any salt in this bread, it took forever to double in size(I keep telling myself that patience is a virtue). Even when forming into batards, the second rising seemed to take much longer to rise also. The long fermentation may have had much to do with the final flavor profile of this recipe, for we were rewarded in the end when the bread turned out so delicious.

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The crumb was really outstanding; it had the chewiness of really good sourdough(maybe because of my wild yeast starter, or the water bath in the cold oven, or even the long fermentation) and the flavor was a little tangy, a little sweet, and a little creamy. Whatever the reason for being so incredibly yummy, I am happy that it happened. I can say without a doubt that this bread will be made VERY often in our home.

yeastpotted

 
 
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I love sunflower seeds. They are delicious, nutritious, and have a very happy name that makes me smile whenever I eat them. So, when I saw this next bread I was overjoyed to be using them in this recipe. By now, I have already baked and eaten my weight in rye breads, but somehow the sunflower seeds just makes this next one seem less disheartening. This is bread recipe #35 in The Bread Baker's Apprentice book by Peter Reinhart, and according to Mr Reinhart, this recipe is an adaptation of Craig Ponsford's 1995 Coup du Monde team. Mr Reinahrt uses both a soaker, a wild yeast starter, and commercial yeast, but if you ahve been following along while I am doing this Challenge, you will see that I am attempting all of his recipes using only wild yeast. As per the rules of the Challenge, I will not post the recipe, but you can follow along on page 249 in the book, or find a copy here.
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So, my wild yeast:"Adam" is alive and kicking on the left, along with the rye soaker left overnight on the right.

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The next day, the soaker, Adam, and the rest of the final dough ingredients gets to be all cozy together into a tacky but not sticky ball.

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Now here is where the good stuff goes in- the addition of toasted sunflower seeds. The smell of toasted sunflower seeds made me a little crazy when they came out of the oven, because I was eating a kernel here and there while they were cooling off. So, I may have had slightly less seeds in the final bread than the recipe called for.

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After I managed to incorporate all the seeds into the flour, the dough cam together rather nicely. It was left to bulk ferment until almost doubled in size. For me, that actually took about 5 hours.

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After bulk fermenting, the dough was then divided into two and shaped into the "couronne" loaves as you can see. They were then left to rise again until almost doubled in volume and to be put into a screaming hot oven.(500 degreesF along with poring boiling water into a pan) I then lowered the oven temp to 450 degrees F and continued baking until done-- around 25 mins or so.

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The final loaves were beautiful and oh so tasty. I found the sunflower seed taste to be just as "loyal" as Mr Reinhart says, and the slices were perfect as an accompaniment to cheese and wine. Who knew sunflowers and rye would be such a delicious combo. I will definitely be making this one again!
yeastpotted

 
 
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So, here is another rye recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I am one of many people across the online community of bakers who is participating in the BBA Challenge, only I am planning to do all if not most of the bread recipes using wild yeast only. As per the rules of the challenge, I am not posting the recipe but in case you still don't have your copy of the book you can find an adapted version here. This is bread number 34, and If you have been keeping up, I have been really impressed by the rye bread recipes so far. Not being a huge fan of rye breads in the past, I am slowly re-thinking my distaste for rye breads. I always thought of Pumpernickel bread as being dark from the color of the rye itself, but it appears that is not the case at all.
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This is a 2 day bread using a wild yeast starter, and in my case ONLY wild yeast. "Adam", (my wild yeast) was refreshed and bubbled away like a champ.

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The recipe also says to use bread crumbs,preferably rye bread crumbs. I had some leftover rye bread from the previous rye bread and toasted and then ground coarsely for texture as was recommended by Reinhart.

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Here is the final dough kneaded and oiled-- ready for the initial rise. This one was also not over-kneaded so as not to make the rye become "gummy".

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The second rise took forever. I waited for 7 hours before putting the loaf into the oven, and it still didn't have an impressive rise. I don't know if that is the nature of rye flour or not, but so far, none of the rye breads had an impressive spring.

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This loaf was very chewy and dense with a heavy crumb. I now understand why as a kid I always saw pumpernickel breads sliced so thin. Also, Reinhart was absolutely spot on about the addition of day old bread to improve the texture, which seemed give a interesting crunch that was unexpected. The tasty loaf was probably my favorite so far and quite difficult to resist when hot from the oven. yeastspotted.

 
 
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I was actually a little intimidated when I first thought of making this bread. In case you've missed out, I have been baking my way through the cookbook: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This bread, which is on the cover of his book, mimics the bread Lionel Poilane made famous from his family recipe. We went to Paris and found one of Poilane's bakery in the St Germain district and were completely blown away by his breads. In fact, we were so excited when we smelled the aroma, we had eaten all of the bread and forgotten to take pictures. So, you can imagine the fear and the delight when I saw this recipe in the book and thought about recreating such an iconic delight. What I really loved about this recipe is that Peter goes into the explanation using "clear flour" which is not easy to obtain here in the States, but he says to sift the bran from whole wheat to get a similar product.Follow along on page 242 or you can find the recipe here.
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Since I did not have any clear flour, I took the time to sift whole wheat flour into a bowl. I was actually amazed at how much bran was left behind, and almost felt guilty leaving it out. But, I knew I could save it for another application elsewhere.

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Here is the firm sponge mixed with my starter:"Adam" and left to ferment for a few hours. I then refrigerated it overnight to retard slowly.

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The next day I cut the starter blob into several pieces and waited about an hour to take the chill off. I then mixed the final dough ingredients along with the now room temp starter into a soft, pliable dough.

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The dough should be tacky but not sticky. The dough was then left to rise until it doubled. For me this took about 5 hours or so.

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After the dough had risen I then gently formed the dough into a free form boule to rise againtil it reached 1.5 times it's initial size,

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Here is the risen dough slashed and ready to go into a preheated oven at 500 degrees. I used the spray method to create steam in the oven and reduced the oven temp to 450. After 25 mins, I then rotated the loaf and reduced the temp again to 425 degrees an baked until it was a deep golden brown. (about 30mins longer)

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This bread tasted really wonderful. There was a lovely nutty flavor and yet the wheatiness was less apparent than in other whole wheat breads that I 'd baked. Of course to me, Poilane's bread in Paris was so much better-- but maybe that's because I was in Paris. Yeastspotted

 
 
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This bread was a little misleading. If you want the bread to be totally all rye, then your barm has to be made from all rye. I use "Adam" (my wild yeast sourdough starter), and it is made of 100% whole wheat. At any rate, to say that this bread is dense, is an understatement. I have so little experience using rye flour and as per Reinhart's instructions, I tried to knead the dough as little as possible without kneading too much. It was definitely harder than I thought. However, to be quite honest, the flavor really surprised me. The rye had an almost "sweet" and creamy taste and texture and I have to say, it was less offensive than I thought it would be. So, if you are like me, and have a dislike for rye, this might be a good recipe to try. You can follow along in the book(The Breadbaker's Apprentice) on page 239, or if not, try to see it here.
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Here is my starter, Adam bubbling away once again. Adam is actually a whole wheat starter culture, but I refreshed him using rye flour. The initial "barm" as Peter calls it only a half cup, and that's the only non-rye ingredient involved otherwise. If you are a purist, he tells you how to make a barm using only rye flour here.

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Here is the final dough after mixing the starter with the soaker(half cup rye flour and half cup water left overnight) and the remaining ingredients. In the book, Peter explains that you can actually knead the dough too much because the rye has far less gluten than wheat. You will find that the actual kneading will be stickier than most of the breads that you are used to making.

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So in the end, the shaped loaf has not risen much-- only about 1.5 times larger. I found also that there was not much oven spring in the final baking of the bread as well. However, the taste was way better than expected.

 
 
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For those of you who know of my keen dislike of rye bread, this particular bread might make me change my attitude just a little. The savory additions of onions really stole the show for me in this particular loaf. If you are still with me from the beginning, you should know that I am baking my way through the book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, and joining the many others who have embarked on this challenge. My personal twist is that I am attempting to do all of his recipes using only wild yeast. This rye bread is actually not half bad as rye bread goes, but, again, I am not a rye bread fan, and this IS a challenge after all, right? If you are following along in the book, we are now on page 236, or you can find the recipe here.
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So, this again calls for a starter, or as Peter calls it "barm", but mine's called "Adam". Here is Adam mixed with rye flour and allowed to double in size.

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I added the onions and the rest of the ingredients to let it bulk rise.

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After the bulk rise, the dough was shaped and turned out onto a nonstick surface to rise again before baking.

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The finished bread-- not so rye tasting and plenty savory.

 
 
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Did I ever mention how much I just LOVE sourdough? Well, apart from the deliciously tangy and flavorful taste, Did you know that it is actually pretty healthy? It seems that the wild yeast used to produce this wonderful bread actually changes the nature of the starches in the bread and cause less spikes in blood sugar levels; You can read more about this study here. Sourdough breads are traditionally made with a wild starter culture that is "fed" and left to develop the yeast and enzyme activity. These types of breads are usually a bit more high maintenance to make, but the resulting breads are generally far more superior in both the taste and nutritional value. Peter Reinhart's version goes into depth about the making of the seed culture and feeding it to develop the "barm" that is used to make a mother starter. You can read all about this and get the recipe here.
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Adam happily bubbling away

If you have been following along this challenge with me, you know that I have been using wild yeast the entire time in place of commercial yeast in all the recipes thus far. Here is my starter; "Adam" once again active for his role in the making of the delicious bread.

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the dough will be a little sticky
Here is the mother dough which has the consistency of french bread and needs to be left to rise for about 4 hours or so until it doubles in size. Then it goes into the fridge overnight.

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dough ready for the bulk rising
The next day I took the mother starter and let it come to room temp for one hour before proceeding. When making the final dough, I substituted whole wheat flour for half the bread flour, to get some beneficial fiber into the mix. I then let it rise again, so they doubled in size before splitting them up into boules.

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wish you could smell this
Somehow I know this photo doesn't really do much justice for this bread. The taste is extraordinary if you like sourdough, and will make you forget how hard you worked to make it.
yeastspotted.